Mon and Wed-Thu, 11:30am-9pm; Fri-Sat, 11:30am-10pm; Sun, noon-9pm; Tue, closed
E, F, M, R at Forest Hills-71st Ave.
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Rego Park, Kew Gardens, and Forest Hills
A good stuffed grape leaf is hard to find. Not at Wafa’s, though, where the deftly wrapped little packages taste as conspicuously fresh as the rest of the Middle Eastern menu, and where chef-owner Wafa Chami patrols her cozy dining room like a Levantine Elaine Kaufman, greeting devoted regulars and engendering new ones. Chami is a somewhat reluctant restaurateur, having been cajoled by her children and friends into opening a spot serving the home cooking she learned from her mother in Lebanon. (It’s a talented family: Her brother Mouhamad Shami keeps Wall Streeters flush in falafel at Alfanoose downtown.) Chami soon outgrew the takeout joint she opened on a Forest Hills side street and expanded into this 40-seat storefront. It’s an upgrade worthy of her silken hummus, her smoky babaganoush, and her moist chicken shawarma, rolled up in thin pita with pink pickled turnips and an Altoid-defying dose of garlic sauce. Not to mention crisp, flaky baklava and rice pudding kissed with orange-blossom water.